A Veteran's Story: Annie

On Sunday, November 10th, Annie shared this reflection during worship.

The year was 1943. The Annie HoltUnited States was at war. I was 21 years old and life was dull. All the boys had gone off to war; no dates, no dances. The WAVES, a newly formed branch of the Navy, sounded interesting, exciting. I decided to join.

Boot camp, Hunter College, Bronx, NY was not like any camp I had ever been to. It was march, march everywhere. Physicals, aptitude tests, lots of shots, uniform fittings, classes on Navy history and protocol. I qualified for communications training, was sent to Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, to learn Morse code. Next order: San Francisco, where I would do coding at the Federal Building.

In September 1994 my high school boyfriend, who was in the Seabees, arrived in San Francisco to be shipped out to the Pacific. After a whirlwind courtship we decided not to wait until war ended to be married. A Navy chaplain performed the ceremony on Treasure Island, San Francisco Bay.

Perhaps you would like to hear how I announced my marriage to the Northern Pacific Fleet. My duty was broadcasting weather to the fleet at scheduled times. The report was punched out on tape in Morse code. It was never done in plain language. When not sending the actual report we were to practice on a dead key. I was waiting for 2am to send the weather, so on a dead key I practiced: Hi, Annie Rand Fay. It was fun, a new name, sounded good. At 2:10 the chief of the watch came over and said, “Your transmitter is running wild.” Glancing at the clock I realized I’d been on the air ten minutes. I was scared. What would the brass do to me? I imagined spending years in the brig in Portsmouth, N.H.. Fortunately the captain of the station was in Washington. My error was overlooked.

What did I learn from two years in the WAVES? Tolerance of others whose backgrounds and ideas were different. Respect for rules and authority, knowing they were for everyone’s welfare and safety. Caring for my WAVE buddies. I knew God was with me always. I came home safely, older and wiser. Thanks be to God.